Saturday, November 19, 2011

For the lack of a better translation

It has been an interesting day. Besides recieving one of the nasty and demanding private messages ever, I did learn something today. The English translation of the Fama Fraternitatis that all the English and American Orders use is flawed compared to the German version (or so I have been informed).

(Actually, I do trust the opinion on the translation error--after all, I have seen some blunders when Hebrew is translated into English---why should German to English be any different?)

Personally, I was unable to find a German version of the Fama that was not set in the alphabet form that I struggle with, not alone a copy that might be accessible with the help of a translation program and a German to English dictionary by one's side. And it does amuse me that the one Order that I would have been expecting to use a different translation only has the same flawed English translation up on their website.

(One can only hope that one of their members does a full translation of it someday and allows those of us with limited language skills to see it. Oh who am I kidding---non-members will never be allowed to see it.)

So given that us the English Orders have been using a flawed translation, does this mean that our Rosicrucian philosophy is wrong? Of course, it does---or so I have been told. I am just not convinced that it as wrong as the person would like me to think it is. Then again, I am not convinced that we are even in the same tradition anymore---at a certain point, enourgh errors and differences of opinion create whole new systems.

(Of course, my real crime of the day was that I forgot to undermine my own authority by including fifteen million mentions of the fact that I am a wrongfully trained scholar---something that I am so sick and tired of doing in the name of peace.)

Now, I am willing to accept that the translation that we have been using loses something in the translation. But I am not sure that I am willing to bow down and toss out the version that the English and American schools have been using for a three and a half centuries. Especially in the light that it is only English version that I was able to find after two hours of internet searching.

The flawed English translation is the only version I have been exposed to in the various groups that I have belonged to over the years. It is the same version that I discuss with students when the subject comes up. And heavens knows that I have a hard enourgh time trying to maintain the little French and Hebrew that I know in the midst of my wife's plot to secretly teach me Spanish, that the very thought of trying to learn more German than the little bit I picked up studying the World Wars turns my stomach.

(Yes, I choose languages that utterly useless when it comes to the study of the Rosicrucian movement...is anyone really surprised by that?! If only I would have known in high school that I needed to make a different set of choices.)

So until I get my hands on a dual language scholar's edition, I have two choices: Keep using the flawed translation and NEVER discuss Rosicrucian philosophy ever again in public (especially if I want to keep a certain letter writer happy) or completely toss them out and make up something to replace them with. It is not a good set of choices at all, is it?

4 comments:

David Griffin said...

Google's "advanced search" feature would have easily found you the same, but here you are anyway ;-)

Johann Valentin Andreae: Gesammelte Schriften, insb.
Bd. 3: Rosenkreuzerschriften. Fama Fraternitatis R. C. (1614) – Confessio fraternitatis R. C. (1615) – Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosencreütz (1616) – Allgemeine vnd General Reformation der gantzen weiten Welt (1614). Bearbeitet, übersetzt und kommentiert von Roland Edighoffer, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-7728-1429-7.

Rufus Opus said...

Here's a German version I found on Google Verbatim, selecting only the pages in German, or some shit. I typed and clicked til I got there.

1. Keiner solle sich einer anderen Beschäftigung hingeben, als Kranke zu pflegen und zwar ganz umsonst.

2.Keiner soll genötigt sein, der Bruderschaft wegen eine bestimmte Kleidung zu tragen, sondern sich des Landes Art anpassen.

3. Ein jeder Bruder soll sich alle Jahre am C. Tag bei S. Spiritus einstellen oder seines Ausbleibens Ursache schicken.

4. Ein jeder Bruder soll sich nach einer tauglichen Person umsehen, die ihm gegebenenfalls nachfolgen kann.

5. Das Wort RC soll ihr Siegel, Losung und Charakter sein.

6. Die Bruderschaft soll 100 Jahre verschwiegen bleiben.

And Google translate renders it:


First No one should indulge in any occupation, to maintain as sick and do so in vain.

2. No one should be compelled to wear a certain clothing because of the Brotherhood, but adapted to the country style.

Third Each brother shall be adjusted every year on the day at C. S. Spiritus, or send his absence cause.

4th Each brother should look for a suitable person who can follow him if necessary.

5th The word RC should be their seal, watchword and character.

6th The Fraternity should remain concealed 100 years.

Rufus Opus said...

So I had a few more minutes to do some more research (I looked up another German translation program online) and they translated it this way:

Nobody should dedicate itself to another employment, than to maintain sick people namely completely free of charge.

I can see how there are multiple ways to translate the line, and with a little mental gymnastics and rationalizing, creative interpretation rather than direct translation, you could come up with a different meaning, but the bottom line imo is that the basic intent of the phrase is simply, "The only job you should have is to heal the sick, and that you should do for free."

That's the line, that's the message, and what it says to me is that the RCs shouldn't need to work for money. They don't need employment.

And that makes sense. They've got access to the Sorcerer's Stone, they shouldn't be working for a living.

So I think the real truth is, if you have to work for a living, you're not a real RC. :D

Soror A.I.D. said...

Been a while since I broke out any German skills, so I used a translator to help.
I think the phrase in questions was
"In solch löblichstem Wandel ging ihr Leben dahin. Und wiewohl ihre Leiber von aller Krankheit und Schmerzen befreit waren, konnten die Seelen den ihnen bestimmten Punkt der Auflösung nicht überschreiten." - from the link Rufus Opus provide (thanks RO)
The translated version is
"In such praiseworthy change their lives went on. And though their bodies were freed from all illness and pain, were the souls of them do not exceed the specified point of resolution."
The word Auflösung was translated as dissolution in the version you were looking at, but looking at alternatives it appears resolution is the common translation with dissolution a secondary. I don't see any reference in my dictionary to it being transalted as "restoration". I'm not sure that the translation changes the meaning at all.